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Title: The operas of Gustav Holst
Author: Artemas-Polak, Natalie
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2006
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Gustav Holst was a contributor to the genre of English opera throughout his career. His name is not usually associated with opera, and yet he composed thirteen in all; five were published, three are lost, and the remaining five exist solely in manuscript. The dissertation begins with Holst's background and influences, the most important of which were the music of Sullivan and Wagner, and the ways in which Holst's music of his early period imitated those styles. Other aspects with which Holst came into contact are discussed here; namely Sanskrit literature, the English folksong movement, and the re-discovery of the English madrigal. Each is examined separately in order to clarify how each influenced his music during the early years of the twentieth century. The earliest operas are presented in chronological order and discussed in terms of their subjects, harmonic and thematic approaches, style and form, as well as a comparison in style between the operas that were composed concurrently. The core of the work consists of the fourth, fifth and sixth chapters wherein Holst's final attempt at Wagnerian chromaticism (and his only attempt at large-scale three act opera) and its lack of success is presented. It is linked to a masterpiece of chamber opera of three years later by way of a song cycle for solo voice and piano which clearly demonstrates his new approach to the setting of text, his use of modality and the paring down of accompaniment to give emphasis to the voice. The final chapter deals with the late period of Holst's operatic writing and discusses the three comic operas. Holst's humour and its effect on choice of subject, setting of text and orchestral effects is put into the context of the post-war era.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available